Fr. Robert Lamantia
The Reverend Robert Lamantia, 87, who served parishes of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Toledo and was a former diocesan dean, died in St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center from complications of cancer.Father Lamantia, though formally retired, was senior associate pastor the last four years at St. Joan of Arc Church on Heatherdowns Boulevard.He loved to preach, and he worked at preparing his homilies," said David Langendorfer, a longtime friend. "He knew he had a gift there.Even as late as three Sundays ago, when he announced [at Mass] that he had cancer and would be going through some treatment, he was still very vibrant. His speaking ability never waned," Mr. Langendorfer said.Father Lamantia's sister Virginia Raymond said: "He has always been an extremely active person. He comes from a long line of people who just don't give in.Father Lamantia often celebrated one or two Masses each weekend and filled in when the pastor was away by celebrating daily Mass.He certainly loved being a priest," said the Reverend Gregory Hite, St. Joan of Arc pastor. "He often spoke to me about how much God had blessed him throughout his 60 years of being a priest.He was very optimistic. In the four short years he was here, the people really learned to appreciate and love him," Father Hite said.Father Lamantia grew up in Lima, Ohio. A nun at St. Rose High School there saw a special quality in him and urged him to enter the seminary, his sister said. He went to Saint Meinrad in Indiana and became a priest in the Toledo diocese in 1948.He was an associate pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Toledo from 1948 to 1952 and at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, Toledo, from 1952 to 1965.He was pastor of St. Boniface Church in Ottawa County's Oak Harbor from 1965 to 1969; pastor of Immaculate Conception Church, Bellevue, Ohio, 1969 to 1973, and pastor of St. Charles Church, Lima, from 1973 to 1984.He was named pastor of St. Rose Church in Perrysburg in 1984 and served there until he retired in 1990. In 1974, he was named dean of the Lima Deanery by then-Bishop John A. Donovan, a post he held until 1984.He oversaw changes at the parish level that followed the Second Vatican Council, from celebrating Mass facing the congregation to using English in place of Latin.He thought the changes were long in coming and were good changes," his sister said. "By putting [the Mass] back in our language, it made people more aware. He liked things to be new. He wasn't somebody who thought we always have to be the same.Father Lamantia wasn't judgmental, said Mr. Langendorfer, who was a student at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in 1954 when he met the then-associate pastor.He was always an easy guy to talk to," Mr. Langendorfer said. "He was a good listener. We did some traveling together. He grew up with my family. He married us, and baptized all my kids.Father Lamantia lived in his own home in Perrysburg for a number of years, Father Hite said, and lived most recently at Swan Creek Retirement Village.Surviving are his sisters, Marie Duval, Josephine Cianciolo, Helen Gulker, Rosanne Sprague, and Virginia Raymond, and brothers, Vincent and Richard Lamantia.Tributes are suggested to the Priest's Retirement Fund in care of the Diocese of Toledo.Article published Saturday, June 14, 2008 in the Toledo Blade.